FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I spoke Tuesday night at Penn State, kicking off the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Stop the Jihad On Campus week that will take me tomorrow to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, then to the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and next week to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where I hope to say hello to Carl and Omid) and to points beyond: SUNY at Stonybrook and Binghamton, and maybe even a few other universities as well.
Courageous members of the Young America's Foundation chapter at Penn State sponsored my talk there tonight. Courageous? Certainly. Not only do they have to deal with ostracism, ridicule, and abuse on a more or less regular basis, but tonight one of the attendees at my talk told the YAF student organizer that he better be careful to "walk a narrow line."
I know a threat when I hear one. That such threats, however veiled, would be uttered in an American university in 2008, does not reflect well on Penn State, or on the state of higher education today in general, or on the health of the social contract of civility that used to be taken for granted. But that has been breaking down for a long time now.
In my remarks tonight I delineated the Muslim Brotherhood's "grand jihad" aimed at "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within" so that "Allah's religion is made victorious over other religions," explained the Islamic supremacist statements that many Muslim leaders and spokesmen in America have made, and detailed how this "grand jihad" is proceeding.
I made it clear at the beginning of my talk that this was a program being pursued by some Muslims, not by all, but this became a point of contention throughout the evening. One woman showed up in the middle of the talk and didn't wait for the question period to begin berating me, and talking over my answers to her questions. Another man started shouting, "I'm a terrorist! Arrest me!" -- brushing aside what I said about defending the equality of rights of all people before the law and the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, as well as what I said about the plain fact that many Muslims are not on board with this supremacist program. This aggressive willful ignorance climaxed in the question from a gentleman who insisted that I was saying that all Muslims were terrorists. When I pointed out to him that I had explained just the opposite at some length, he began to excoriate me repeatedly for denying him his freedom of speech after I had spoken about defending free speech (I had explained the attempts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference to destroy this freedom), and finally walked out ostentatiously, to applause from his allies. They did not seem at all impressed by the fact that he was manifestly claiming that I had said something I had not said -- that all Muslims are actively involved in the Islamic supremacist effort.
But when truth is not interesting or useful, for all too many people nowadays it must fall by the wayside in favor of myths that have the advantage of serving one's agenda. The Muslims and their allies in the audience acted according to the tried-and-true playbook: they affected wounded indignation that I would suggest that any Muslims are pursuing jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, as if I made up the fact; challenged my credentials, as if my lacking a Ph.D. means that the Brotherhood is not engaged in what it describes in its own words as a "grand Jihad" to destroy Western civilization; accused me of ignorance and of dishonesty, although without refuting a single specific point I made; and claimed victim status, as if to discuss the reality of the Islamic supremacist agenda puts them all in imminent danger from redneck vigilantes; and accused me of "hate" and "bigotry," as if the Poles and Czechs only imagined Hitler out of their fanatical hatred for all things German.
It's a strategy I have seen again and again, and I am sure I will see it tomorrow and Thursday at the two UWM campuses as well. These groups wouldn't say these things if they didn't work, although they actually do nothing to establish that there isn't an effort to bring Islamic law to the West. In any case, it doesn't speak well of the intellectual environment at Penn State or anywhere else that students can get away with actual threats, and with trying to shout down a speaker with canned propaganda instead of engaging in actual dialogue. The atmosphere on campuses today is very closed and the ideological conformity is strictly enforced -- and that's why my hat is off to the Penn State students who dared to buck the ideological straitjacket and have me come in to speak. I doubt that anyone of good will could come away from that discussion thinking that the MSA apologists had a case, after they behaved so thuggishly and boorishly. Maybe, just maybe, a few cages were rattled Tuesday night.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His next book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is coming this November from Regnery Publishing.